Rematch: Texas Takes on the TSA Again

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On Monday, Texas Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) pre-filed a bill to stop aggressive TSA groping in the Lone Star State.

The Texas Travel Freedom Act, House Bill 80, would make it a criminal act to intentionally touch u201Cthe anus, breast, buttocks, or sexual organ of the other person, including touching through clothing,u201D without probable cause in the process of determining whether to grant someone access to a public venue or means of public transportation.

The act also provides additional protection for minors.

A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he…removes a child younger than 18 years of age from the physical custody or control of a parent or guardian of the child or a person standing in the stead of a parent or guardian of the child.

If passed, the law would prevent TSA agents from carrying out the most intrusive pat-down searches at airports across Texas. Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said it only makes sense to put limits on these types of personal searches.

u201CIf you walk up to somebody and grab their crotch out on the street, it will land you in jail. Blue uniforms and federal badges don't grant some goon the power to sexually assault you, or at least they shouldn't. A person doesn't forfeit her or his personal dignity with the purchase of an airline ticket.u201D

Simpson said that since the federal government won't back off of these intrusive and unconstitutional searches, the responsibility of protecting its citizens falls to the states, and ultimately the people themselves.

u201CAbel Upshur’s words are pertinent to our cause. u2018It is indispensably necessary to maintain the States in their proper position. If their people suffer them to sink into the insignificance of mere municipal corporations, it will be in vain to invoke their protection against the gigantic power of the Federal Government,'u201D he said. u201CNote his emphasis: it is the people through the states — under God’s favor — that must ultimately protect the people of our states from federal encroachments.u201D

Simpson sponsored a similar bill in the 2010 legislative session. HB1937 unanimously passed the Texas House. A week later, the bill passed favorably out of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. But a letter delivered to key senators from U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy ultimately stopped the bill dead in its tracks. With the pressure on, Gov. Rick Perry placed the bill on a special session agenda, but political wrangling ultimately torpedoed the bill.

Maharrey says more Texas lawmakers need to grow a spine and stand up to the feds.

u201CLast time around, leadership in the Texas legislature failed miserably at its most basic duty — protecting its citizens. Basically, they said, u2018Sorry, we're afraid. So we are going to go ahead and let strangers feel up our wives, sons, daughters and grandparents.' This will continue and get worse until somebody puts their foot down and says, u2018No!'u201D Maharrey said. u201CThe feds say they will shut down the skies over Texas? Let them. And then let them explain to America that they are doing it because they want to continue molesting innocent people at the airport. Americans hate this crap, and I think it's pretty obvious who they will stand behind.u201D

ACTION ITEMS:

If you live in Texas, begin contacting your representative and senator and let them know you want them to pass the Texas Travel Freedom Act. You can find contact information for your legislators HERE.

If you don't live in Texas, contact your lawmakers and encourage them to introduce travel freedom legislation in your state. You can find model legislation HERE.

You can track travel freedom legislation across the U.S. HERE.

FULL TEXT OF THE LEGISLATION (HERE). An excerpt:

(a) A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he:

(1) intentionally subjects another to mistreatment or to arrest, detention, search, seizure, dispossession, assessment, or lien that he knows is unlawful; (2) intentionally denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power, or immunity, knowing his conduct is unlawful; [or] (3) intentionally subjects another to sexual harassment; or (4) as part of a determination of whether to grant another person access to a publicly accessible venue or form of transportation, intentionally and without probable cause: (A) touches the anus, breast, buttocks, or sexual organ of the other person, including touching through clothing; (B) removes a child younger than 18 years of age from the physical custody or control of a parent or guardian of the child or a person standing in the stead of a parent or guardian of the child; (C) otherwise engages in conduct constituting an offense under Section 22.01(a)(3); or (D) harasses, delays, coerces, threatens, intimidates, or effectively denies or conditions access to the other person because of the other person's refusal to consent to (A), (B), or (C).

A public servant acting under color of his office or employment commits an offense if he…removes a child younger than 18 years of age from the physical custody or control of a parent or guardian of the child or a person standing in the stead of a parent or guardian of the child.

(c-1) For purposes of Subsection (a)(4), “public servant” includes: (1) an officer, employee, or agent of: (A) the United States; (B) a branch, department, or agency of the United States; or (C) another person acting under a contract with a branch, department, or agency of the United States to provide a security or law enforcement service; or (2) any other person acting under color of federal law.

Michael Boldin [send him mail] is the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. He was raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on twitter — @michaelboldin, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook.

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